California servers could be jailed for giving plastic straws to customers under new bill
Legislation was introduced in California on Jan. 18, which would require restaurants to only supply plastic straws to their customers up on request.
Restaurant servers who ignored the law would face a pretty stiff penalty – up to a US$1,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.
Ian Calderon, Democratic Majority Leader for the State Assembly, introduced the bill which would only apply to sit-down restaurants but see fast food restaurants be exempt.
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans,” Calderon said in a press release. “[The bill] is not a ban on plastic straws.
“It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”
The statement notes that only nine per cent of all plastics are recycled and that number drops to zero for plastic straws. It notes that an estimated 500 million straws are used daily in the U.S.
Calderon has come under fire for the bill which has left both customers and restaurant staff and management baffled.
WATCH: The environmental pitch for ditching plastic straws
Alondra Fernandez said the legislation could reflect poorly on her with customers.
“Part of my job is customer service,” she told CBS News. “And customer service is offering what we have to offer.”
Grand View Market owner David Zlotolow described the law as absurd. He questioned how it could even be policed.
“Like a secret policeman in the restaurant?”
Calderon took to Twitter to defend his intentions.
“I’d like to clarify that #AB1884 (Straws Upon Request) is (a) NOT a ban; (b) should it become law, it will NOT make it a crime for servers to provide plastic straws. My intention is simply to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic straws on our environment,” he wrote.
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